Black Lives Matter St. Paul is demanding the firing of a Como Park Senior High teacher who the group claims portrayed students as drug dealers and gang bangers when he vented in social media about a lack of district support in discipline matters.
The group has threatened a “shut-down action” at the school if special-education teacher Theo Olson still is on the job Monday.
Since that Thursday posting, however, arrangements have been made for Rashad Turner, a leader with Black Lives Matter St. Paul, to meet on Monday with Superintendent Valeria Silva.
At the school, Como Park High Principal Theresa Neal wrote in a Saturday statement to families that “we do not anticipate any disruption to our school day on Monday, but we will follow our school’s safety plan as needed.”
A month ago, Black Lives Matter St. Paul said it would disrupt the Red Bull Crashed Ice Championship after a St. Paul police officer posted a message on Facebook urging people to run over marchers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But it called off the protest after Turner said city and state authorities met a list of demands it had presented.
Turner, who ran unsuccessfully for a St. Paul school board seat last November, could not be reached to comment Sunday night. But the move to take on the school district appears linked, too, to the group’s concerns over the disproportionate percentage of black students being suspended in St. Paul.
Olson did not identify students by race in Facebook postings preserved by Black Lives Matter in screenshots. Olson suggested that the district was not providing enough help in dealing with “kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains or cyber bullying.”
No specifics were provided on what was meant by “whore train,” but Olson did state in response to a comment on Turner’s Facebook page that the term “had to do with inappropriate sexual activity that took place.”
On Facebook, Turner described Olson as “an example of a white supremacist teacher.”
Olson offered to speak with Turner and professed support for Black Lives Matter, saying that he had marched with Turner at a protest on University Avenue.
On Sunday, Olson declined to comment. Last week, his wife wrote on Turner’s page about how her husband cared deeply for his students and how the issue was a complete misunderstanding.
“He was complaining about not getting help in the teachers’ contract for dealing with a small number of students who are making it hard for everyone — students and teachers alike,” wrote Karen Nelson Olson. “We are crying and shaking here at home.”
Turner wrote that he tried unsuccessfully to speak with Olson in person at the school and accused the teacher of alerting authorities as if he were an intruder.
“Save that sorry ‘let’s talk’ narrative for a fool, Theodore Olson,” Turner wrote. “I’m not the one.”
Toya Stewart Downey, a district spokeswoman, said Sunday that the district is aware of Olson’s postings and “we’ll determine if there are any next steps.”